Nick planing timberNick returned to the Kimberley and began the work of building and maintenance and contact with remote places, and the people he knew there, that meant so much to him. His first major work was a combination bathroom/laundry at Billiluna.

Photo 3 shows Nick and Berkeley checking Nick's map for travelling West around Lake Gregory to Mulan and Balgo. The main road was closed for several months that year at the Sturt Creek crossing. The alternative route was mapped by Nick and involved travelling along the northern end of the Canning Stock route as well as on seismic cut lines and rough tracks joining them. [Photo courtesy of the Broome Advertiser].

Photo 4: Interior of the Machinery Workshed being transformed into a Conference Centre. Toilets and storage underneath and chapel on mezzanine.

Left Photo: shows Nick considering a solution to a tricky problem in the staffroom renovations.

He designed the kitchen trolley which features in the photo the right with Nick teasing Reco the cat with food. The cat's name was really Reconciliation (harmonising Black and White). However, it was soon commonly changed to Recker as in Wrecker.

Nick spent much time at the Mirrilingki Sprituality Centre doing building as well as general maintenance. His major works here were transforming a shed into a conference centre, roofing part of the accommodation area, designing and building a large carport as well as a storage shed. 

At Warmun, Nick designed major renovations for the staff and administration areas. He did the renovations that resulted in a computer room, and built a storage shed for the Holy Place. 

At Balgo, Nick did much renovation on the former convent as well as working on the Church windows - replacing coloured window glass and installing metal mesh that protected the building as well as keeping it cool. Nick also built an admin section for the Adult Centre and did renovations at the Balgo Clinic.

Over 1998 and 1999 Nick did renovations to the Sisters' house at Beagle Bay including major renovations to the kitchen.

Nick completed renovations at Halls Creek Priest's house that resulted in an extra room. Nick was involved with every aspect: planning, ceilings and walls, windows, floor coverings, painting and curtains. 
Photo 6 shows Verandah being changed into a room. 

Nick also worked in many other places including Lombadina (school hall), Gibb River (Installing play equipment shed and air vents), Mulan (Locks and maintenance), Cotton Creek (renovations and major planning for Sr. Colleen RSM), Fitzroy Crossing (renovations for the Franciscan Sisters), Bidyadanga (Sisters' house), Notre Dame University (Shed renovation to a games room, planning for renovations and extensions to the Sisters' house) etc.

Nick also travelled to Forbes to help renovate the Sisters' Convent there for Sr. Margaret McGrath, RSM who had previously been the Principal at Kururrungku Catholic School Billiluna.

At the time of his Golden Jubilee as a Christian Brother, he was determined to celebrate the event in the Kimberley, his home now, instead of in Perth, the normal custom. Nick made all the arrangements himself for a memorable mass at which Bishop Jobst presided and a catered formal dinner. This was the first function to be held in the new Administration building at the College. It was fitting that his only art exhibition was held in the same venue only metres from where Nick and the Brothers had lived for so many years.

Mirrilingki plan

Nick was always working or planning, except on Sundays, or holidays. But all the working and planning was to assist people, especially those working in difficult or poorly funded places. In fact he often exhausted himself in his desire to be of assistance. He worked for the people, not for the schools or the parishes. He liked building - for him it was a skill, an art, like painting. He enjoyed bringing a project from an idea to the planning stage and then to a final result. We often discussed plans together, some of which were way ahead of time like Nick's plan to redesign Mirrilingki with new staff centre, kitchen and dining room (see plan at left). He also developed an innovative design for Aboriginal housing.

Last Weeks

3 founders

1..Arriving in Billiluna after loading building materials in Broome

Chapel2.. Nearly completed building at Billiluna..
Art by Carlene Smith3..In Broome - planning the journey

(Photo copyright - Broome Advertiser)
Interior conference centre4..Nick designed and carried out the conversion of a machinery shed at Mirrilingki into a Meeting Place and chapel
Nick at Warmun5..Nick at Warmun contemplating a renovation of the School Staffroom
Reco the cat6..Nick tempting the cat with food. He designed the kitchen central working table at Mirrilingki
Halls Creek Presbytery7.. Nick enclosed part of the Hall's Creek Presbytery verandah to act as a meeting room.